Monday, March 17, 2014

Fullmindedness. Wait, that's not right.

"Your kids are fine, moms.  Don't worry about them.  Maintain your focus.  Reach your arms up.  Breathe in and out.  You know if you forget to breathe in yoga, you're going to forget to breathe when your kids are yelling at you."

I fix my eyes on a light switch on the front wall and slowly breathe, in through my nose, out through my nose.  My little one wraps her arms around my shins.

"Yoooooga teeaacher," I hear BG trill the incredibly descriptive direct address.  "The babies keep knocking over the tooooweeers."

In through my nose, out through my nose.

"That's okay," answers the instructor.  "That's part of the practice.  To keep going even though things get knocked down.  Want to do this pose with me?  Moms, sit back in Utkatasana."

The air that comes out through my nose as I sit back into chair pose comes from somewhere deep inside me where I didn't know I was holding it.  My little one reaches her arms up with a whimper, and I scoop her up and hold her against my chest as I squeeze my knees together and tuck my tailbone.  Still breathing.  Still focusing on the light switch.

It's only for this one moment, in this one place, but it matters.


Before yoga class, I sat on the floor with both girls to play.  I'd shut off all my social media.  I wanted to just be there.  I wanted to be present, to be fully in the moment.  

In the back of my head were dinner plans.  Worries about the laundry and the dishes.  Wishes for some time for myself.

And I saw them, and I waved at them, and I pushed them away.  Again and again and again.

And I tried not to judge myself.  And I tried not to judge myself for judging myself.  (I've said this before.  I'll probably say it again.  It will be a long time before I'm there.)

"Moooommmmy, what should I doooo?"  "Mommmmmmmmmy, my baby sister is knocking over my towers."  "Moommmmmmy."

I moved the baby out of the way, again and again and again.  I tried to distract her with different toys, to build separate towers for her to knock down. But again and again, she zeroed in on what BG was building and began to take it apart, shrieking and crying when I pulled her back.

I closed my eyes.  I couldn't breathe.  There was no way to make both of my children happy.  There may not have been any way to make either of them happy.  Was I doing it wrong?  I wanted to be anywhere but here.  Being present is overrated.


I've just finished reading Jon Kabat Zin's The Mindful Way Through Depression.  It made a lot  of sense to me.  It resonated with me.  It spoke to a lot of places I've been going in my head lately, without research.

I want to be in just one place at a time.

I want to give my thoughts their space, let them come up where they will, without letting them take over my life.  I want to love myself, to have permission to be who I am.  I want to have a space that is completely without judgment.  And I want to not judge myself when I do judge (see, I told you I'd say it again).

At the end of the book there was an 8 week guided plan for building mindfulness skills.

In the first week, it suggested, you are to do a 20 minute body scan, three 3 minute breathing spaces, and mindfully attend to one daily task, every day.

What the flying ....?

How was I supposed to do all that?  How was I supposed to add that to the day I already have?  How was I supposed to find 20 minutes when no one was touching me or talking to me?

I was never going to get it right.  I was never going to be fixed.


I don't need to be fixed.   Just like my writing, just like my parenting, my life is happening right now.  Whether I'm ready or not.  Whether I've exercised my neuroplasticity or not.

I'm here.  Now.

And that's enough.

Wednesday, March 12, 2014

Ready or not

I am piled on the couch with both my children.  The little one is laying across my stomach, and the big one is leaning on my shoulder and tickling her sister.  They are both giggling.

And I am reading articles on how to parent.

I've been thinking and talking a lot about showing up before I'm ready, about being brave, about putting myself out there while I'm still imperfect.  But mostly when I do that, I'm talking about writing.  I"m talking about advocacy.  I'm talking about things that happen outside my house.

But the raw truth is that the thing in my life that requires the most courage is happening right here on my couch.

Loving my kids is terrifying.

Right now, there are two people, two of the people most important to me in the world, who rely on me for everything.  For whose lives and development I am 100% responsible. Who I have to nurture and educate and love and cherish 24 hours of every day.

And sometimes, I really don't wanna.

And it isn't because I don't enjoy my children.  It isn't because they bore me really or because there's something else I'd rather be doing.  It's because I am so scared of screwing it up.

I read books and articles, and I ask advice.  I make lists, and I obsess over decisions.  I curl up into myself, researching and learning, preparing myself to parent.  When I'm ready, when I'm perfect, when there is no chance of making a mistake, when there is no danger to anyone I love, that's when I will show up.

But parenting is happening right now.  It is happening right now, when my one year old is brushing her own hair with her sister's brush, when my three year old is sitting next to me in butterfly pose (just like mama) and summarizing for me the Curious George episode she just watched.  It's happening whether I am ready or not.

I'm scared.  I'm allowed to be scared.  I'm allowed to not enjoy every minute.  I'm trying not to judge myself for not being present in the moment every moment, and I'm trying not to judge myself for judging myself for that.

My big girl is pretending to take my temperature now.  "Are you sick today mommy?  I think you're about to have a fever.  I need to give you a special shot!"

My little girl has a toy phone balanced between her shoulder and ear and is stirring the tiny coffee pot she's put on the play stove.

I am smiling at them.  I am closing my eyes and thinking happy thoughts for my shot.  I am echoing the baby's babbling and signing back to her. I am writing.

This is my real life.  It's not a dress rehearsal.  I'm already doing it.

What a scary thought.

Monday, March 10, 2014

Believe in me

We all want to be big stars
But we don't know why
And we don't know how.
-Counting Crows

I want my blog to be successful, I say.  I hear myself say it and I realize that I find it incredibly frustrating.  It feels hopeless, out of reach, undefinable.  There's no goal, no benchmark by which I can define this success for which I'm striving.

Because what I really mean is I want my blog to make me feel successful.


Life is disappointing.   That feels like an awful thing for a mother to say.  It feels like I'm saying I don't want to be where I am.  It feels like something I need to apologize for, to justify, to explain.  It feels like something I'm not supposed to say.

But the truth is, life is disappointing.  I'ts unfulfilling a lot of the time.  It's hard and overwhelming and boring.  It's tedious.

I get discouraged easily.  I try to make some big broad gesture, to clean my entire house in one day with both kids underfoot or to bake a pie or to do an elaborate craft or plan an outlandish day trip.  And then it "doesn't work."

Doesn't work.

Because so much of the time, so many of the things I'm doing are really just another way of trying to prove something.  Because I think that if I just get things right, just work hard enough, just find the exact right combination, then everything will go right and I will finally stop feeling like a failure.

But that's not what happens.

Even if I somehow manage to accomplish the benchmark I set before myself, the thing that I thought "if I just do this, it will mean I am a good enough mom/wife/homemaker/writer,"  nothing changes.

Nothing changes.

It doesn't work.

It doesn't make me into something better.

And in the back of my head, I hear Brene Brown's voice, and the voices of my wiser, braver friends, telling me that I should show up because I'm already worthy and not to win my worthiness.  And I think "YOU IDIOT, YOU'RE NOT EVEN GOOD ENOUGH AT THINKING YOU'RE GOOD ENOUGH.  YOU'RE NOT DOING ANY OF THIS RIGHT."

But that's not right either, is it?

I want to raise kids who are healthy and happy and smart and kind.  I want a house that is clean and organized and comfortable and welcoming.  I want a blog that helps people, that speaks to people's hearts, that lets other people know they are not alone.

And I know that other people see all that in me already.  But I don't see it.  I can't.  I don't know how to know when I'm doing it.

I have piles right now.  We've watched a lot of TV.  I haven't been writing.  I've been gorging myself on junk food.

I feel like a failure.

I want to feel like a success.  I want to be a star.  I want to be able to define myself in one way as a winner, to be seen as having it all together.  I want everybody to love me.